Ransomware really gets around, faster than even the best form of mass transportation can move busy commuters to work.
Recently, ransomware caused the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA) light-rail system to lose revenue when the organization shut down ticket machines and fare gates as a precaution to the malware attack. According to the SFMTA site, ransomware infected mainly 900 office computers. However, another source claimed that more than 2,000 computers were infected, including office admin desktops, CAD workstations, email and print servers, employee laptops, payroll systems, SQL databases, lost and found property terminals and station kiosk PCs.
The ransomware scrambled the data on infected hard drives, posted a message on corresponding computers (“You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted, Contact For Key (email@example.com) ID:601.”), then demanded a 100 Bitcoin ransom (approximately US$75,000) before the cybercriminals would agree to hand over a master decryption key that would allow the SFMTA to decipher the data ransomed on the infected hard drives.
Ransomware is a threat to businesses that already costs millions of dollars each year, and unfortunately is prevalent and grows more sophisticated. There are literally millions of new malware variants each year. In 2015 there were 431 million variants added, according to the Internet Security Threat Report.
Using a variety of attacks, criminals can inject malware into your network, which then holds your data or other systems hostage until you pay a ransom. Ransomware gains access to a computer system through a network’s weakest link, which is typically a user’s email or social networking site. Once a user clicks on a malicious link or opens an infected attachment, the malware spreads quickly throughout the system.
When a file or other data is held for ransom, the affected organization must meet the financial demands of the cybercriminal in exchange for a decryption key to “unlock” the ransomed data. If you don’t pay the ransom, you forfeit access to your computer and the data that’s on it. You also forfeit access for others to shared documents and data, compounding the impact exponentially. You might think that’s the worst case. Not so. (more…)